Our Blessings

Our Blessings

Friday, September 19, 2014

Treasures



Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5


 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2


Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
1 Chronicles 16:11


For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 
Colossians 1:13-14


He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3


The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:18


You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11-12


do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10


so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 
Galatians 4:5


My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.  For they are life to him who finds them, and healing to all his flesh.
Proverbs 4:20-22


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 
Micah 6:8


But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15


And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14


Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, September 18, 2014

First Day of School ~ 2014



The girls were all very excited to start a new year at our little school. 
(Church - homeschool tutoring service) We love so many things about it...the school feels like a combination of homeschooling and amazing discipleship time. The days are short 8:45-1:00. We have a month off in the summer, a longer break at Christmas and a few other short breaks. And we can pull them out for family time as we want to. And with this crew - I find the routine and schedule is helping us thrive as a family. With the season we are in this past year and a half - EPA (Ellerslie Preparatory Acadmy)  has been such an amazing fit for us. Still seems strange to not be homeschooling in the traditional sense - but this is an answer to prayer for us. 


This little girl was so eager to finally start school last summer after Loe had spent 6 months at school. She has flown through kindergarten, 1st and most of 2nd grade work. Apparently she was ready for school!? It's fun watching her learn and soak things up. She also adores her teachers and friends. She looks forward to school and that's saying a lot for this little homebody. 


Miss Eloise continues to enjoy time learning academics as well as soaking up God's truths. What an amazing blessing to watch her fall more in love with her Savior. I seriously can NOT believe she is going to be 11 in a few months. She thrives with routine and so enjoys the enrichment classes they have added in - art and PE. She loves bringing her projects home to show off!


And this beauty continues to amaze me with her courage and determination to keep working on English, math and some history. Sometimes one of the Ellerslie advanced students who are bilingual -  come in to help translate during discipleship time. She raises her hands to answer questions and is so proud when she can say it in English and the teacher understands her! She has much to overcome and I am so excited to see what God has in store for her! SOOO thankful for EPA - a safe, loving "school" for her to attend. She is so social - that this is a perfect fir for her right now. 


I really could write a whole blog post about the teachers our girls have been blessed to have. They are  technically 'tutors' - but they pour and pour and pour into our girls. They long for them to learn and grow, but not just in academics. They come alongside them in their struggles and victories. And they pray with and for our girls and our family. Every - single - day - they point our girls to Jesus. We feel like these amazing people are an extension of our family. Such a privilege to have them coming alongside us. (Above is 1 of Loe's & Angie's 3 teachers.) 


Praying our girls have an amazing year - learning more about God's creation, HIS-story, and His Word...and so much more. 

Miss Vivi is THREE!



Can not believe that our baby girl is already 3 years old! It just can't be that long ago that she looked like this...


But...time marches on. 


While Viv can be completely defiant and ornery at times...


...during this challenging season she has been such a needed ray of sunshine and laughter.


I wish (pray!) for her...to understand how much Jesus loves her. To know the amazing plans He has for her. To be filled with grace and joy. To be used mightily to further His kingdom. And to rest in His strong arms. 


These three could NOT WAIT to celebrate with their baby sister. 


And it was more than excitement about cupcakery cupcakes...though we did all enjoy those a lot. 


The older two used some hard-earned foot-rub money and an entire gift card to pick out this adorable Minnie Mouse dress-up outfit for her. 


Complete with headband, bow and...


...light-up shoes!


I don't think she could be any cuter!


And the girls were thrilled to see her loving her gift. 
(Minnie has been her favorite for a long while!)


She was feeling pretty snazzy! 


Our gift for her was a plasma car. We have worked hard the past several years to give the kids gifts that allow them to use their bodies and minds to create, exercise and move. She played on these cars with Miss Betsy while we were in Colombia and loved them! The fun thing is that all the girls can take turns riding it. Though it is a bit of work - which is good for them! Nothing like a fun way to burn energy and get fresh air and sunshine. 


Happy birthday to our precious Vivienne Sade. You are such a precious gift and we love you to infinity and beyond! 

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Build-Another-Bear


Anyone who has followed my blog or ever met Ren & her bear knows our pre-adoption Build-A-Bear tradition. The boys made one for us to send to Loe in her care package in China. We recorded our voices and placed that sound button inside her bear's paw. We also had her name stitched onto a t-shirt for the bear. It sits on her bed with all of her other favorites. Loe & the boys made one for Ren, also with a sound button & t-shirt. It goes EVERYWHERE with her and has since she came home. It's becoming slightly more common for her to leave 'Teddy' in her room or in the car over this past year - my baby girl is growing up!  The girls made one for Vivi and one for her birth mom. We knew Vivi wouldn't notice it much during those early months and in fact even today she only plays with hers once in a while. (She MUCH prefers to tote around a VERY thick, hot, blanket instead!) But, we knew giving one to her birth mom might give her something to hold in her empty arms as she left the hospital. The sacrifice and courage birth moms show is nothing short of incredible.


We first began Angie's adoption process and then realized later that she was eligible to be part of the hosting program. So, we knew a care package would have to wait until further in the process when we were officially approved by Colombia and when she was aware we were adopting her. So, we all decided that taking her to Build-A-Bear for her birthday (SO blessed to have her here to visit for her 13th birthday!) was a great plan and she could then build her own bear and take it home!


We hoped she would be able to bring it back with her when we came to pick her up 14 months later. We knew she was a sweetheart...what we didn't count on was just how generous her heart really is. When she was back in Colombia a little cousin in her foster family really had her eye on that bear and cried when she couldn't have it...so Angie gave it to her!


She was so excited to come build another bear.  I love that she gets a chance at a second childhood in our family. Yes, she's 14.5 yrs old, but she has siblings that are 2, 6 & 10 - that gives her a wonderful excuse to play like a little girl - such great therapy. Trauma is an ugly thing - it steals away so much. When our kids with hard histories get to go back and be a kid again (along with many other methods, it allows them to not only build warm, positive memories - but it actually helps with development - sort of filling in some of the gaps - mentally, emotionally and sometimes even physically. 


The girls were thrilled to come along on another bear-building expedition. Angie let each of the girls help brush & fluff Rosa's fur. Her last bear was similar, except she had snowflakes. No snowflake bears in August. :) But, a very cute, soft, pink bear seemed to do just fine.


She picked out a cute dress and created a birth certificate for her bear. 


After an emotionally exhausting week and my heart breaking for my girl - 
this was a smile and a sweet memory that was definitely worth the $38.00! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Officially Welcomed Home!


We were blessed with a baby shower or 'welcome home' party for each of our kids. So, we were excited about the idea of having a party for Angie, yet wanted to be sure she was not only ready to handle that without feeling completely overwhelmed, but be sure she actually wanted a party. We gave her a few months to settle in and learn more English and when we brought the idea up - she was absolutely thrilled with it! 


We wanted to make it a special day celebrating her permanent arrival into our family. We kept the party plans pretty simple - snacks, sweets, family and friends. We have always sought to honor China because we received two amazing gifts from that country - Loe & Ren. 


So, we were equally eager to acknowledge and honor Colombia not only for the gift of Angie, but because Angie is 14 and will always have memories and a connection with her birth country. 


Yet, she is completely thrilled to be an American citizen, as well! So, we decided to combine the two flags and their colors to help us celebrate our girl. 


Both flags have red and blue - but the Colombian flag also has yellow. As we decorated I was thinking that the yellow made everything so bright and cheery - much like our new daughter does. 


She really does have a way of adding sunshine to our family and bringing Colombian and American cultures together! Angie loves anything pretty and almost anything with sugar! We had fun shopping for red, white, blue & yellow decorations and candy. The girls counted down the days and repeatedly asked who would be attending! 


One of Angie's dear friends, Ashlyn, offered to bake her cake for the party. We ordered some cupcakes to go with it and stuck Colombian and US flags in them. 


We ended up with plenty of cupcakes and didn't need to cut into this pretty and VERY delicious cake. So, our little family of 8 devoured it in about 2 days! Oh! Yummy! 


Thanks Ashlyn! 


To say that we are blessed with support and people to love and pray for Angie is an understatement! We ended up having almost 100 people come celebrate with us! WOW! What a fun day! (And I still need to track down a few groups to get their picture!)


Eloise helped all of the kids who attended make a craft. A paper heart ornament made from recycled maps. God has built our family with His love from all over the world! So, each family was sent home with a tangible reminder to pray for Angie and our family.  


The kids played outside...


...and inside. (I think poor Colton is enduring an exam by a couple of very young doctors, perhaps with not so gentle bedside manner!)


We scheduled the party as an open house - allowing 3 hours for people to come and go as it worked with their schedules. We set up some tables and chairs outside and I imagined people coming in - filling out a card, grabbing something to eat and heading back outside. But, within the first hour the house was PACKED with people! It was pretty warm out and so many wanted to stay inside with the A/C. I didn't blame them! 


We found a fun little scrapbook with pages holding a variety of pockets. Some designed to hold photos and some are for decorative cards you can buy in theme packs. Such CUTE and SIMPLE scrapbooking! Love it! So, we encouraged everyone to fill out a card for her album.  


And I attempted to snap a quick photo of Angie with each family or person that attended. I will print out those photos and she'll put the cards and photos together in her album. Even Vivi went to work after the party designing her own card for Angie's book. :) The book will serve as a great memory not only of her party - but also of God's faithfulness in bringing such wonderful people into her life! 


After the party was over the girls sat down together to look at the cards that were given to Angie. I was reading them through tears of thankfulness for the people God has placed in our life who love and support us as well as our girls so amazingly well! The warm words, prayers and powerful scriptures are going to be treasured!


Angie was beaming with joy throughout the entire party. I wouldn't say hosting a party like this for every adopted kiddo is a the best idea. Some personalities would be quite different and this would be not only overwhelming, but downright frightening. But, not this girl - she truly is a social butterfly. She happily posed for picture after picture. She greeted people as they arrived with hugs and worked hard to use some english when conversing with everyone.

Thank you so much to everyone who came to celebrate Angie with us! Many of you prayed for her to come home, many helped at our fundraisers and continue to pray for our family as we all adjust. We are so, so, SO grateful! We have had a lot of adjusting these past 5 months, but Jesus continues to be at work in so many ways in each of our lives. We very much appreciate continued prayer for God to knit our family together, to bring healing for past hurts and trauma and for His joy and peace to permeate our hearts and home.